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Celebrate Spring with Some Fun Educational Nature Activities

Nature’s Workshop Plus! 

Copyright 2015

All Rights Reserved.

Website:  http://www.workshopplus.com/

Spring! What a wonderful time of the year. The sunshine becomes warmer, dormant grass awakens from its necessary winter nap,  trees seem to wake up and wave hello to all who take notice, and life springs from nearly every place we look.  We also get to experience the spring rains which boost the season into its new identity. Your students might like to start a nature journal during this season.  There is so much to record!  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Begin by noting the daily weather patterns and discuss how it relates to the greening of the grass. Make a grid in the journal and record the daily temperature, rainfall quantities, amount of sunshine, types of clouds, etc. Reinforce the journal concept with a study of cloud formations.
  1. Sketch a tree and the growth of its leaves. Look up the scientific name of the species and record it in the journal along with its common name.  Leave space in the journal for revisiting that section during the season and resketch the leaves as they grow.  Once the leaf is full grown, leave enough space for a sketch of the colorful Fall leaf. You could even begin a leaf collection of several species beginning with the smallest leaves in the Spring and ending with a colorful Fall collection.
  1. Record beautiful poetry about the spring season in your journal.  Perhaps adding appropriate Scripture, personal thoughts, and beautiful artwork could complete each entry.
  1. Plant seeds and record their growth.  Small children love to plant bean seeds.  Plant the bean seeds in a glass jar so that the growth is visible. They grow quickly, and the seeds are so large that the shoot, growing up, and the root, growing down, are very easy to see. Draw the growth stages in your journal. Label all parts of the plant. Older students might like to plant flower and vegetable plants.  Record the growth data in your journal using Metric measure. Keeping careful records now allows the children to gain experience in recording data.  Once they enter into the upper level sciences, lab reports will be required.
  1. Have an insect section in the journal.  It wouldn’t be Spring and Summer without our little “friends”.  Again, look up and record their scientific and common names, draw the species, label its parts, record where the insect lives, and what it eats. Study the metamorphosis of the insect.  Does this species experience complete or incomplete metamorphosis? Draw its life cycle. Start an ant farm and observe the diligent activity of the ant. Observe in nature or via video a butterfly leaving its chrysalis. The video “City of the Bees” examines the life of the honey bee.  This video shows the inside of the hive, how the bees gathers nectar, how the bees communicate, and more.  It is fascinating to watch. Don’t forget to serve toast and honey!  Using colorful photographs as your guide, sketch the bees and their hive into the journal. Label as mentioned before.
  1. Begin a rock collection.  Draw what you see.  Hand magnifiers or stereo microscopes allow for more detailed viewing. I haven’t met a child yet who didn’t have a touch of “rock hound” him or her! This activity just about requires a field guide for proper identification.  A beginner guide works better for children than an overwhelming larger volume which might be harder to use.
  1. Go on a nature hike and record what you do and see.  Take a pair of binoculars for bird watching.  Make sure to begin a bird section in your journal.  They are so beautiful.  Set up a bird feeding area in your yard and keep a field guide handy for quick identification. Learn the common birds of your area.

These are just a few ideas for you nature journal.  Allow your imagination to help you plan.  Your children might enjoy this activity better if they can decide which area in their journal to develop first. Always include art and poetry in the journal. Supply your students with a set of colored pencils, drawing pencils and a good eraser. One thing we have found is that children don’t want to “mess-up” a page in their journal, so we recommend that each page be completed in a loose leaf format then placed in a binder when the child is satisfied with the page. If you use a binder with a clear plastic cover, the students can decorate a page and insert it into the cover for a custom look!  For upper elementary and middle school students, look up the taxonomy of the species being studied and note it in the journal. The more you do toward preparation for high school biology the better.

Nature journaling will also require nature studying.  The “Handbook of Nature Study”, by Anna Botsford Comstock, http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=734&idcategory=0  is an excellent resource for a teacher or parent who needs to know more about topics in nature.  The book was originally published in 1911 and contains 887 pages. It is divided into 4 major sections: The Teaching of Nature Study, Animals, Plants,and Earth and Sky.  It is a store house of information to help you teach you children/students about nature.  Please see.http://www.workshopplus.com for information about both this book.

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Below are some additional resources that you can use for your spring lesson planning.  You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser.

Garden Pirate

http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4069&idcategory=0

Make the world a little greener by depositing seed “bombs” in forgotten outdoor spaces. Using fun shape molds, you can cast seed bombs from fast-growing flower seeds, growing medium, plaster gypsum, sand, and water. Once the seed bomb shapes have dried and hardened, they can be distributed in appropriate outdoor places. After a while, a beautiful cluster of flowers will explode in those spots. Learn about botany, flowering plants, seeds, nature conservation, tree planting, and more.

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Nature Kaleidoscope- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3127&idcategory=0

A make-your-own kaleidoscope kit.

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Hanging Bird Feeder Kit- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=3893&idcategory=0

Adults and children will enjoy building this old fashion, hanging bird feeder.

Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit- http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4166&idcategory=0

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This  Deluxe Insect Collecting Kit includes a 12 x 18 inch insect display case, professional grade 10 inch Safety Glo insect net, foam spreading board, 100

Love Plant (Great for Mother’s  Day!  http://www.workshopplus.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=4176&idcategory=

loveplantgrowing(1)_1831_generalThese carefree plants are easy and fun to grow and will thrive in any terrarium.

With so much to see and do this Spring, don’t forget to take time for simple, peaceful, observation. Children need quiet time in their lives to reflect, think and form opinions about life. They can learn form observing nature, listening to nature, studying nature, drawing nature, planting, being outside, getting dirty, splashing in a creek, and chasing butterflies! If we can teach them to enjoy these lovely God-given gifts, we are giving them an enormous gift that no mass media gimmick can ever match.

Blessings to you,

Diana Ruark

Nature’s Workshop Plus!

For free catalog or more information:

(888) 393-5663

http://www.workshopplus.com/ 

All resources mentioned in the article are available through Nature’s Workshop, Plus.

Editor’s Note: For additional springtime articles, lesson plans, recipes and more, please visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_spring_handson.html

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Support Systems – Timely Advice for Expectant Moms

Are you an expectant mom? How are you coping? Take a moment now to read Support Systems from A Life of Love and Joy. for some heartfelt advice.

If you know of a loved one or friend who is a soon-to-be-mom, feel free to forward the link to her, as well.

Enjoy!
Heidi

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Crafting the Winter Weekends Away

Brrrrr… . Now that we are in throes of winter, some families choose to spend the weekends snuggled in their warm homes reading their favorite book or finishing a craft project.    Why not make some lasting memories in the process?

Knitting, needlepoint, embroidery, crocheting, woodworking and other such activities serve multiple purposes and can be enjoyed by all. 

The benefits of crafting stretch far beyond just making memories.  First, young children receive practical life applications as well as learning how to combine colors and textures.  Second, crafting gives family members an opportunity to share a creative experience.   Third, we all know that you can’t put a price on the value of  handmade gift.  Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are not far off, so, let’s examine some of the homemade gifts that can be used for these occasions.

 Knitting and Crocheting Resources 

 Whether you are a novice or a seasoned professional your first stop should be to the How to Knit and Crochet Learning Center http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/learn-home.html

You will find most of what is needed here – from the basics to a discussion forum where you can ask questions, look for project ideas and share the fun. You will also discover links to free projects.


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Additional free knitting patterns are available at: http://crafts.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Free_Knitting_Patterns_for_Children  –

Bountiful Spinweave http://www.bountifulspinweave.com also offers fun and unique projects for children and teens.   Be sure to check out their beautiful selection of yarn for your knitting and crocheting projects, http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/yarns.php#.UPROneiR3UQand free patterns at Bountiful Spinweave Free Patterns http://www.bountifulspinweave.com/patterns.php#.UPROZ-iR3UQ

To see some of the crochet projects completed by the children at a Montessori school visit the Seattle Montessori Blog entries  Crochet! http://seattlemontessorian.blogspot.com/2009/10/crochet.html and French Knitting and Pom Poms http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2012/04/french-knitting-and-pom-poms.html .

Since the price of yarn can be quite expensive, it’s always best to check the bins and discount tables at your local crafts or yardage store for bargains.  If it’s too cold to venture outside, visit Closeouts from Bountiful Spinweave http://www.bountifulspinweave.com

You can also find out more about fibers, books, spinning and weaving by visiting http://www.bountifulspinweave.com

 Needlepoint and Sewing Resources

 Have you admired those who create beautiful needlepoint masterpieces, but felt too timid to try to make one?  The sites below offer clear instructions for beginners and offer many interesting projects for children.

Visit Embroidery for Children – Save the Stitches http://www.nordicneedle.net/guides/stitching-techniques/embroidery-101/embroidery-for-children/ and How to Needlepoint http://www.needlepoint-for-fun.com/how-to-needlepoint.html

Receive a free Beginning Cross Stitch and Continental Stitch for Making Coasters by a visiting http://www.amonco.org/creative6/montessori_fall6.pdf   These coasters make a thoughtful gift for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

The Stacy Sews blog is filled with ideas that you and your children can do together this winter. Pont your browser to The Forty Minute Tote Bag http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2012/6/3/mollys-sketchbook-the-forty-minute-tote.html and http://stacysewsandschools.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/christmas-in-july-a-book-cover-tutorial/Christmas in July – A Book Cover Tutorial. 

 Woodworking Resources

Woodworking projects take on a whole new meaning when older children and teens help out.    Most projects, at some point, must be finished outside, but there are a few on the lists below that can be completed indoors.

Here are sites to explore:

http://www.absolutelyfreeplans.com/PROJECTS%20FOR%20CHILDREN/projects_for_children.htm Projects for Children

 http://ezinearticles.com/?A-Basic-List-of-Hand-Tools-Needed-For-Kids-to-Get-Started-in-Woodworking&id=728003 A Basic List of Hand Tools Needed for Kids to Get Started in Woodworking

 http://www.thewoodbox.com/woodcrafts/box/bxbasicinfo.htm The Basic Wooden Box

 http://www.finewoodworking.com/woodworking-plans/article/kids-woodworking-projects.aspx Kid’s Woodworking Projects (For ages 7 and older)

All Art Supplies.com www.allartsupplies.com/ carries a wide range of art supplies for those interested in painting a design on their creation.

Nature’s Wokshop Plus!.com http://www.workshopplus.com/ offers the Wikki Stix Creativity Kit in which children can make wooden shapes, frames plus other interesting projects. 

Care and Concern Crafting

 For an activity that you can make for shut-ins,  please visit

https://montessori21stcentury.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/montessori-february-community-service-projects/

                                                       Community Service Projects

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 For more creative fun visit http://www.amonco.org/montessori_library.html and click on the free hands on lesson planning idea-planning newsletters.

Happy Crafting!

 Heidi Anne Spietz

American Montessori Consulting

http://www.amonco.org

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving School and Home Educators

Montessori for the 21st Century

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